With the arrival of Spring, many horse owners are itching to get back in the saddle and ride regularly again with their horses. However, bringing your horse back into work safely requires a gradual approach to prevent health problems.
After an inactive Winter season, your horse may have lost body condition and level of fitness. As such, it’s important that you increase your horse’s workload gradually, both in length and intensity, along with making gradual feed changes to support safe weight gain or loss.
If your horse spent the majority of Winter paddocked or stabled, you need to be careful that you don’t over exert them during your first Spring rides. Groundwork and light work are ideal when getting your horse back into a working routine.
At the same time, as your horse’s workload increases, so too does their need for nutritionally balanced diet and unlimited access to fresh, clean water to support the loss of fluids and electrolytes caused by sweating.
Improving Body Condition
In addition, using a scale or weight tape, you should assess your horse’s body condition. Some horses may have gained weight over Winter, while others may have lost weight. A body condition score of 3 is ideal for a horse in moderate work.
Increasing or decreasing body weight safely takes several weeks to months to achieve. When formulating a suitable diet for your horse, be sure that forage, such as hay or pasture, form the bulk of their daily feed ration and no more than 2.5kg of grain is fed in a single meal.